YouTube on Wednesday announced changes to how it handles videos about the 2020 presidential election, saying it would remove new videos that are misleading people by claiming that widespread fraud or errors affected the outcome of the election.
The company said it made the change because Tuesday was the so-called safe harbor deadline – the date by which all state-level electoral challenges such as recounts and audits should be completed. YouTube said enough states confirmed their election results to determine that Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the president-elect.
YouTube's announcement is a reversal of much-criticized corporate policy on election videos. Throughout the electoral cycle, YouTube, owned by Google, has allowed videos making false claims of widespread election fraud. This policy allows videos that comment on the outcome of an election. Under the new policy, voting videos uploaded before the Safe Harbor deadline will remain on the platform. YouTube adds an information field linked to the note on the certification of the election results of the federal register.
In a blog post on Wednesday, YouTube pushed aside the idea that harmful and misleading election-related videos could be freely distributed on its website. The company said it has closed over 8,000 channels and "thousands" of election videos since September in violation of its policies. Since Election Day, the company has also reported fact-checking bodies more than 200,000 times over relevant election-related search results on election fraud reports such as Dominion Voting Machines and Michigan Recount.